The devastating Zhouqu storm-triggered debris flow of August 2010: Likely causes and possible trends in a future warming climate
|dc.identifier.citation||Ren, D. 2014. The devastating Zhouqu storm-triggered debris flow of August 2010: Likely causes and possible trends in a future warming climate. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 119 (7): pp. 3643-3662.|
On 8 August 2010 in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, a rainstorm-triggered debris flow devastated the small county of Zhouqu. A modeling study, using a new multiple-phase scalable and extensible geofluid model, suggests that the cause is an intersection of several events. These were a heavy rainstorm, not necessarily the result of global warming, which triggered the landslide and followed a drought that created surface cracks and crevasses; the geology of the region, notably the loess covering heavily weathered surface rock; and the bedrock damage, that deepened the surface crevasses inflicted by the 7.9 magnitude Wenchuan earthquake of 12 May 2008. Deforestation and topsoil erosion were critical contributors to the massive size of the debris flow. The modeling results underscore the urgency for a high-priority program of revegetation of Zhouqu County, without which the region will remain exposed to future disastrous, “progressive bulking” type landslides. Debris flows are more predictable types of landslides; consequently, a series of “pseudo climate change” model experiments of future extreme precipitation events are carried out using the Weather Research and Forecasting model, forced by temperature perturbations from an ensemble of climate models. In a possibly future warmer climate, extreme precipitation events are anticipated to be more severe, and this study has identified an atmospheric blocking pattern that might produce future extreme precipitation events in the peri-Tibetan Plateau (TP) area (located to the northeast of the TP). Importantly, observations from gravity field measuring satellites indicate that the larger geological environment of this region also is becoming increasingly unstable.
|dc.title||The devastating Zhouqu storm-triggered debris flow of August 2010: Likely causes and possible trends in a future warming climate|
|dcterms.source.title||Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres|
|curtin.accessStatus||Open access via publisher|